One to watch...
A quick scroll down here and you'll see it's not as often as I'd like that I get the chance to update our blog! But there is a brilliant local company, Figura KItchens, who really do know a thing or two about blogging - and we're lucky enough to be featured on their blog every month - with Rupert recommending the perfect wine matches to accompany delicious dishes from local restaurants and chefs. Titled, Under the Fig Tree, the blog is a wonderful round up of design ideas, local news, inspirational interiors and of course, fantastic food and drink.
Click through this link - and don't forget to sign up so you never miss a month!
In the press... and another award win!
It seems not a day (oh, ok, month maybe...) goes past that we're not featured in the local press! Can our heads get much bigger? Joking aside, it's always an honour to be asked to contribute to an article, or be featured for winning an award. Those of you with a moment to browse online might like to check out this link - it's to a fabulously summery themed article by Rich Lee at The Guide2Surrey (www.theguide2surrey.com) all about what to drink this summer. Rupert is pictured here posing with Brigitte, our lovely vintage bar van, as Rich asks him about why he loves Whispering Angel rosé.
We were also incredibly lucky to be named overall winners of the Up Your Game, Up Your Gain challenge in Cranleigh this week. Out of 40 local participants we scored the highest (98/100) for our customer service, impressing the 'secret shopper' with our knowledge, sales technique and welcoming attitude. We were up against some amazing other local businesses, who all did really well too, so we're very impressed with ourselves for our win! Our thanks go to Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce, Surrey County Council, and Cllr Alan Young, and Waverley Council for supporting these awards.
Thanks to Martin Bamford from Informed Choice, another Gold Award winner in the competition, for the photos!
Wintershall Concert Was A Great Success!
There were sore heads all round no doubt on Sunday morning after the most fabulous rock concert and after parties at Wintershall on Saturday 2 July. Taurus Wines was in charge of the bar area and we pulled out the stops, getting our friends at Veuve Clicquot to send us their pop-up bar equipment - plus of course we had Brigitte Bordeaux there looking lovely under the canopy by the lake. Greenalls Gin supplied an amazing variety of G&Ts and our friend Luke from the Craft Brewery was selling local beer. And Brigitte wasn't the only H-Van there either - our friends at Moooh Icecream did a roaring trade with their delicicious home-made glaces served from their beautiful 1970s van too.
Over 2.500 people joined the Hutley family in what has become a rather legendary local event. Guest acts on the stage (that was elegantly poised over the lake) included The Darkness in all their lycra-wearing glory, Mike Rutherford, Andy Roachford, Roger Taylor, Jeff Beck and Steve Harley. The crowd sang and danced along to classic hits while picnicking under the setting sun, on what was one of the best days weather-wise so far this year.
The fireworks over the stage and lake were awesome, and added to the sense of wonder and excitement that was a huge part of the fantastic atmosphere at the concert.
You might hear those of us lucky enough to have gone banging on about this for ages - sorry!
We're up for an award!
We've been lucky enough to have been nominated for one of the prestigious Muddy Stilettos Awards! Prestigious why? Well Muddy Stilettos is an online lifestyle magazine that champions rural businesses which add a little bit of twinkle to the countryside. Vote for us in the Surrey Wine Shop category by following this link - and fingers crossed we'll make it to the final!
2016 Winter Wine Tastings - dates announced!
In case you're not familiar with our little tradition, we will once again be hosting our winter 'walkabout' tastings, where we showcase 60 of our Champagnes, wines and spirits (along with sherries, ports and other winter treats) in various villages and towns near us. The wines can vary between tastings, depending on deliveries and stock levels, but we always try to have a fantastically broad range of wines to show you on the night, accompanied by not only our trained and informative staff (on hand for all your questions) but also a full spread of cheeses, patés, pies and breads to soak up the samples.
This year, we will be at:
*New venue* Cranleigh Arts Centre - Friday 7th October
Shamley Green, The Arbuthnot Hall - Friday 21st October
Bramley Village Hall - Friday 28th October
Godalming, The Borough Hall - Friday 4th November
Loxwood, The North Hall - Friday 11th November
Forest Green, The Parrot - Wednesday 23rd November
Tastings cost £15 on the door on the night. Please RSVP to us in the shop on email@example.com or 01483 54 84 84 to let us know which tasting you would like to come to. Let us know your email address and we'll send you a list of the wines on show a couple of days in advance of the tasting so you can really get your eye in!
Follow the above link for a great run down of what life is like for a wine merchant when he (or she) ventures out of their shop for the day. Rupert was very pleased to don the red trousers and go to Parsons Green to take part in The Wine Merchant magazine's annual competiton, sampling well over 100 wines including some complete newbies - white chianti anyone? - to get to the all important Top 100, as published by the magazine every year. Thanks to Graham and his team at The Wine Merchant for organising such a varied and interesting competition - roll on next time!
Rupert is off up to town again next Tuesday and Wednesday judging the wines entered for the International Wine Challenge - watch this space for more news!
Jane Ferrari is coming to see us!
Join us and the one-woman-wonder that is Jane Ferrari on Tuesday March 22nd at The Park Hatch in Ewhurst, Cranleigh.
Jane is often descibed as the Barossa Saint, a fitting title as she is passionate about all things Aussie - especially the amazing wines of the Barossa Valley. As a Brand Ambassador for Yalumba, she'll be bringing samples with her of some of its finest and most sought-after wines (including the legendary Octavius, which can retail at up to £100 a bottle), as well as more everyday drinkers. All the wines will be available to buy through us at the end of the tasting should you fall in love with anything in particular! In fact, you can check out some of our range of Yalumba wines here before you try them on the night...
The Park Hatch will be providing a three-course meal to accompany the wines, so come hungry and get stuck into some delicious 'tucker'.
Welcoming drinks at 7pm with supper and a talk from Jane at 8pm. All of this for £45.
A BIG Award win!
We've hit the ground running this year and although January is meant to be our 'quiet' month we're already filling up our diaries. One of our more exciting events was attending the Cranleigh & District Business, Innovation & Growth (BIG) Awards on Monday 11th January as one of the finalists. We were absolutely thrilled to be short-listed... and over the moon to win! To get this sort of appreciation from local peers is absolutely amazing. It was a fascinating evening, where we got to learn more about the innovations happening in the other finalists, who were our friends at Firebird Brewery in Rudgwick, Ruby & Kind on Cranleigh High Street, Just Jhoom, The Jigsaw School and Cranleigh Golf & Country Club. We were honoured to even share a stage with such talented and passionate local businesses, which makes our win even more humbling. A huge thanks to the organisers of the event, Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce, and my team here at Taurus Wines, as without their hard work we wouldn't have been on that stage at all!
Pirates and Poet Laureates – the story of a buying trip to Jerez (Part 1)...
“If I had a thousand sons the first human principle I would teach them should be, to foreswear thin potations and addict themselves to sherry sack.” William Shakespeare.
You always know any trip is going to be exciting when the plane is so small you have to load your own bags into the hold. Thus, when arriving in Jerez (the most southerly wine producing region in Europe) for a two day sherry “educational” tour I knew it was going to be fun.
The tour began at the Cosejo Regualtor (the body charged with overseeing sherry) where we were given a background briefing. This involved a detailed lecture on sherry production and its history, including its long association with England. A 'bluffer’s guide' if you will. And, for you - I shall distill it into my own anecdotal history of sherry.
It all starts with the Arabs who dominated the region for 500 years and called the town of Jerez “Sehrish”, which became as 'Sherry' to the English. We will then fast forward to 1509 when Henry VIII married Catherine of Aragon who in turn introduced sherry to the royal court. Their divorce in 1533 meant a certain cooling of relations with the Spanish and shipments stopped accordingly. Boo.
Then in 1587 Sir Martin Frobisher a British “licenced pirate” and general bounder raided Cadiz. He “liberated” 3500 casks of sherry – no mean feat as each contained enough wine for 500 bottles. This could be seen as “the largest sample request in Sherry’s history”. Sir Martin sailed to London with the booty and promptly sold it to inns and taverns all over the city and introduced the masses to sherry, thus making the drink popular in England again (and no guesses as to why the infamous Spanish Armada sailed close to our shores in 1588...) To this day the UK is still Jerez’s most important export market and it crops up again and again in our popular culture (ever sung along to the Pirates of Penzance? 'Pour, oh pour the pirate sherry; Fill, oh fill, the pirate glass; And to make us more than merry let the pirate bumper pass!'
Speaking of popular culture, something that makes sherry incredibly popular with the cultured, especially those privileged few that attain Poet Laureate status, is that each one is given, by the Cosejo, a cask of sherry on their appointment. They can then choose when to have it bottled and shipped - who knows, perhaps it is such stuff as dreams and ends to writers block is made of?
Our brains now suitably improved with lots of new facts we moved onto the all-important part of the visit – the Bodega (cellar) visits.
Flor and Fine Dining - the story of a buying trip to Jerez (Part 2)...
Our first visit was to the venerable Bodegas Lustau where we were to experience our first Sherry Bodega. Once we had acclimatised ourselves to the vastness of the bodega the process of sherry production was explained to us in a more hands on way than in the Consejo. Lustau see themselves as “tailors of wine” as the base wines that go into their huge 600litre casks are selected for neutrality beforehand. All the flavour in their Sherry then comes from the cask aging where the wine develops under a layer of yeast (flor) before being aged in a series of barrels (soleras) that ensure consistency from year to year. Their most famous brand “La Ina Fino” has a particularly large solera system.
The awe-inspiring height of the bodegas is so they can catch the prevailing wind (poniete), which aids the humidity, as does the special wet sand (alberio) flooring. The floor is soaked twice weekly to help bring the humidity up to the optimum 70%.
Lustau do a lot of aging of barrels for the Scotch whisky industry, so we were able to see that in progress as well.
At Bodegas Romante we were introduced to one of the great characters of Jerez - Marcelino Piquero. Marcelino was very generous with his time and gave us a fascinating tour of the cobweb-laden ancient cellars (spiders are encouraged as they eat the flies that are attracted to the flor). Marcelino’s hospitality included repeated demonstrations on how to use a venencia (sampling instrument) to take cask samples. Marcelino’s expertise in Sherry is so recognised that he makes the own-label wines for both Waitrose and the Wine Society. As a result, any of his top tips on Sherry are worth listening to. These include:
At 3pm (this is Spain where late lunches are standard) we went to lunch where we drunk our way through the Sherry Rainbow. Pale Manzanilla as an aperitif; Fino, with snapper; Amontillado with snail risotto; Oloroso with steak and to finish off, some PX with choccie pud. All rounded off with a Sherry brandy…
Oddly the next visit wasn’t the most professional I have ever done. Slightly “tired” after a lunch…. But it was to a lovely boutique winery that creates just 5,000 bottles a year (favoured by collectors and Russian millionares).
Cat flaps to 200-yr-old Casks - the story of a buying trip to Jerez (Part 3)
On Tuesday we drove to the Costa Alegre (Happiness Coast) and to the town of Sanlúcar, through the famous Abariza (white soil) which unhelpfully had turned brown. It apparently does this for about 24 hours after heavy rain which it had done the day before!
At the Bodegas Delgado Zuleta (makers of the Manzanilla drunk at the King of Spain’s wedding) we were met by our host, the very jolly Pelayo Garcia. We were introduced to the concept of En Rama (almost literal translation as 'raw' - it's bottled straight from the cask and mostly unfiltered) and saw Sherry casks signed by famous bullfighters.
After that we paid we visit to Tim Holt at the Bodegas Barbadillo, a cathedral-sized bodega dedicated to Manzanilla production. A bit like Sherry’s version of ‘our man in Havanna’, Tim settled in the region 25 years ago and never left. His unique brand of polite and very British enthusiasm about everything (from how the spider mites in the cellar affect the taste of a wine to his explanation of how flor grows more abundantly here than in rest of Sherry due to humidity carried in the sea breezes) means he is truly a great ambassador for the product. Thanks to Tim’s enthusiasm (and the quality of the Sherry!) we’ll soon be stocking his Solear Manzanilla and Principe Amontillado.
The animal lovers among us sighed, however, as Tim explained how all the cats that used to live in the winery (helping keep the mice and rats at bay) now had to live elsewhere due to British supermarkets insisting that they were not hygienic. Now the winery has to use traps and other means to control the pests. There was still a rather authentic cat flap in the door of the bodega – so perhaps they sneak back in when the supermarket buyers aren’t looking?
Our next stop was to champion jockey and wildlife lover Javier Hidalgo's bodega. He is a veteran of the sherry industry and La Gitana is one of its most famous brands. The name comes from the 1800s when a beautiful gypsy lady (pictured on the bottle to this day) would serve a Manzanilla straight from the cask in her bar. It became known as “the wine of the gypsy lady” by the local men. Different in style to more inland Manzanilla and aged in barrels that are all at least 200 years old, to my palate this is more salty, bready and richer than the more mealy and toasty inland ones. Javier recommends you drink it with gazpacho, artichoke and asparagus. Interestingly, Javier’s other brands are known as Napoleon and Wellington as during the peninsular war the Hidalgo family cunningly supplied both sides.
Our final trip was to Bodega Fernando de Castilla - and it was always going to be one of the highlight visits, as Norwegian Jan Pettersen’s bodega is one of the most forward thinking of all. We have stocked his “Antique” range for years and his PX is a perennial favourite at our Chirstmas shows. However, Jan says his fino is his top selling wine and it is unique in being fortified twice (to 17%) which allows it to age for 30 years. Jan then talked us through his full range including his Palo Cortado (98 Parker points and 20/20 from Jancis Robinson) to one of the oddest wines I have ever seen... A cask of PX he bought from a closing down Bodega. Estimated to be between 200 and 300 years old, the wine had the consistency of marmite and was so sticky the glass stained to the colour of sunglasses. Whilst it broadly tasted like PX you could crunch the sugar crystals between your teeth.
All in all, it was a fantastic and very enlightening trip that brought the wine we all know and love as a pre-Sunday lunch tipple to life. Speaking of bringing things to life, it seems only right to end on a quote from Sir Alexander Fleming, he of the penicillin fame:
“If penicillin can cure those that are ill, Spanish Sherry can bring the dead back to life”
Wine Tasting with Matthew Jukes - Thursday 12th November at Bel & The Dragon in Godalming
Here we are again - another fabulous evening planned with the unbeatable Matthew Jukes. Join us at the Bel & The Dragon in Godalming on Thursday 12th November for an evening of wine tasting with Matthew. He will be bringing with him over 40 of his favourite Australian wines, all open for your to taste, while the Bel & The Dragon chefs supply us with delicious canapés - what could be nicer!?
Tickets for this exclusive event are only £25 and are limited to just 40 places, so book early to avoid disappointment. You can buy them from the shop or over the phone, or click here to buy them online. You must buy your ticket before the evening commences, please do not try and pay on the door.
The evening starts at 7pm and if you've had enough of wine by about 8.30pm or 9ish, why not carry on the evening and book yourself a table in the main restaurant? We have personal experience of the deliciousness that comes from the josper grill at the Bel, so can highly recommend rounding of the evening in this way! Call the restaurant on 01483 527 333 to book your table.
We look forward to seeing you there!
Winter Wine Tastings
It's that time of year again (can you believe?) and we're busy labelling up envelopes and printing invitations for our infamous Winter Wine Tastings. The tastings will follow the same format as usual; 60 of our wines, Champagnes and spirits open for you to taste, along with copious amounts of cheese, paté and bread to help it all go down. There will special offers on the night and our Taurus Wines team on hand to tell you all about the wines and offer expert advice. The dates and venues of the tastings are below (all tastings run from 6.30pm until 10pm)
We hope to see you at one of the shows - just let us know by RSVPing to Rupert@tauruswines.co.uk or phoning us on 01483 54 84 84
Exclusive event with Miss Bush Bridal!
We're very excited to be a part of our favourite bridal shop's launch of beautiful Sassi Holford dresses this Thursday (30th July). It's promising to be a bumper party with fantastic canapes supplied by Too Many Cooks and us on hand in the always-lovely Brigitte Bordeaux to serve some fizz to the brides to be. Sassi Holford is a name revered among brides and designers alike, and we for one can't wait to see what her new season dresses look like. Look out for us all at the gorgeous Miss Bush Bridal salon in Ripley - we'll save a glass of bubbly for you!
Brigitte Bordeaux - out and about in the sunshine
It's been a glorious summer so far and Brigitte Bordeaux, our lovely Citroen H van, has been looking fabulous in the sunshine at parties, weddings, fêtes and even the opera! Don't forget, you can hire her for your own party - just call us at the shop for more details or pop onto www.taurusontour.co.uk for more information and a gallery of pictures.
Our thanks to Carol Hornsby-Smith and Capture It for these photos!
Rain drops keep falling on my head...
It has been a shocker of a day weather-wise today (this being the 14th May) and it's little wonder than no one really wants to go out much. So, if you can't come and visit us, let us bring the shop to you. Not only do we offer free delivery on local orders over a few quid but sometimes we can even get it to you the same day. It's like we're the fourth emergency service - a wine-bulance if you will. Anyway, the wine can come to you and you can even come to the shop from the warmth and cosiness of your own home. Just follow this link and have a browse of the shop at your leisure. Then pop online and place your order or phone the shop for more urgent enquiries. Happy drinking!